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The new 2011 BMW 530d has easily passed its first crash test evaluation while using active emergency brake intervention. Like a number of other cars to come to market recently, the 5 Series is available with a radar-based active cruise control system that can use the brake system to manage vehicle speed and keep the car a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Recently these systems have been enhanced with emergency brake intervention that allows full braking force to be applied if crash is imminent – even when the cruise control is not being used.

However, current crash test procedures don't allow for the activation of such systems. For example, in the European 40 mile per hour frontal offset test, the vehicle is expected to crash at 40 mph. In the real world, active braking would reduce the speed of the impact, likely reducing severity as well. However, applying full brakes also causes the nose to pitch down and the cars occupants to shift position can alter the test's results.

As more cars get these types of systems, they need to be accounted for in crash testing, and BMW is working with German testing agency DEKRA to develop new procedures. Check out the official press release after the jump.

[Source: BMW]
Show full PR text
World premiere: New BMW 5 Series passes first crash test using brake intervention.

* 28.05.2010
* Press Release

Munich. Up until now, verification of vehicle safety has been obtained by means of crash tests in which structural integrity and restraint systems were tested in a non-braked situation. However, thanks to modern electronics such as those also featured in the new BMW 5 Series and BMW 7 Series, protective systems that warn the driver in advance of an accident and prepare the driver and the vehicle for impact in the event of an unavoidable collision, are becoming more and more widely accepted.

Future testing procedures will have to make allowances for the effect of preventive protection systems. In a recent world premiere, the BMW 530d successfully passed a crash test involving brake intervention at the facility of the Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungs-Verein (DEKRA) in Neumünster near Hamburg.

Every motorist is familiar with the situation: The end of a tailback suddenly appears behind a motorway bend. If a motorist is inattentive or visibility is impaired, a rear-end collision is imminent. after all, this is the cause of around 40 percent of all motorway accidents involving injured persons.

In order to defuse this kind of hazardous situation, some premium segment vehicles such as the BMW 5 Series are already equipped with anticipatory assistance systems that help reduce the risk of such accidents. BMW's successful upper mid-range model, which was just recently brought to market, features – combined with Active Cruise Control – an optional rear-end collision warning system incorporating a braking function that activates an alarm scenario in two stages.

In the event of a potential collision with the vehicle in front, the driver is first given a preliminary warning by means of an illuminated red vehicle symbol on the instrument panel and on the Head-up Display. At the same time, the braking system is prefilled and the minimum triggering level of the hydraulic brake assistant lowered. This ensures that in an emergency brake pressure is built up faster when the driver applies the brakes, therefore significantly reducing the stopping distance.

If the danger of collision is acutely imminent, the second stage of the collision warning commences. In situations demanding particularly rapid intervention by the driver, the system activates an acoustic signal in addition to the visual warning. Should the driver still not react to the request to apply the brakes, a time-limited delay procedure is activated: The car brakes for 1.2 seconds with reduced deceleration, whereby speed is already reduced before the driver can apply the pre-tensioned brakes.

Based on the information supplied by the radar sensor of the Active Cruise Control system (ACC Stop &Go) featured in the new BMW 5 Series, the system detects when a collision can no longer be avoided by the driver's reaction. In this case, an automatically activated emergency brake application function ensures that collision speed is, nevertheless, significantly reduced.

Based on a conventional EuroNCAP test with the car approaching an offset obstacle at 64 km/h, a so-called offset crash, the vehicle used in the DEKRA test incorporating advanced brake intervention likewise initially accelerated to 64 km/h. However, immediately before impact the BMW 530d braked hard – as stipulated by the system – and collided with the offset block at a reduced speed of just 40 km/h.

Due to full brake application immediately prior to impact and the car's pitching movement resulting from this, the vehicle changes its position, particularly when the front bumper hits the block. The vehicle collides with the obstacle in a slightly "lower" position than in the case of a crash occurring without prior application of the brakes.

Concerning the deceleration, occupants also assume a position further forward. More important, however: In the event of a crash incorporating prior brake application, the severity of impact is reduced considerably, thereby significantly lessening the strain on all occupants.

Previous testing facilities have not permitted verification of the effect of anticipatory occupant protection systems in crash tests. The demonstrative test implemented by BMW in collaboration with DEKRA is the first step in testing future pre-crash scenarios, as in the years ahead innovations in active safety will be found in an increasing number of vehicles, with BMW playing a leading role.


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  • 17 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I disagree in the need to change these tests to take safety systems into account.

      These systems may work well when you're driving, but you still have to see how the vehicle handles those collisions while at a standstill. That 40mph impact can't be safer by using an auto-braking system while you're stopped at an intersection and a moving vehicle crosses into your lane.

      Perhaps additional tests can account for these systems, but the core testing of collisions will always be necessary.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. The issue is a 40mph crash. The safety system that may turn a 40mph crash into a 25mph crash is irrelevant to surviving a 40mph crash!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wish the "less damaged" car would have also been a bright color. Black has a slimming effect here too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the real world, cars hit objects that are suddenly in their path, such as a T-Bone collision, which a frontal offset crash test tries to replicate. Not very often does a car hit an object head on that's been in its path long enough for this radar stuff to work
        • 4 Years Ago
        Computer reaction time trumps that of a human.

        This is not a great representation, but gives you an idea of human reaction time: http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime/stats.php

        215ms on average. I bet the radar works much faster than that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ever been on the highway when everyone in front of you feels like coming to a dead stop from 70mph for one idiot merging at 10mph? Boom. Rear ender. Happens at least thousands of times on a daily basis I'd bet.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I, like many others, wonder what happens when cars equipped with these emergency radar braking system encounters a driver who severely cuts them off. In auto insurance lingo "the swoop and squat." If driver's don't change their behaviors and allow for safe distances between themselves, a chain-reaction will result and the poor sucker without this system will end up into someone's trunk.

      I'm all for increasing the safety on the roads, but I don't like how more and more "safety" is being implemented by technology. What ever happened to good driving skill and sound judgment. With all these driving aides, it's like we're enabling bad behavior on the roads.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A swoop and squat is a maneuver for insurance fraud...guy cuts in front of you and hits the brakes so you hit him and he can then claim you rear ended him. Without a video camera it's your word against his and it often can't be beat without an intensive insurance investigation. One tip is the two dozen tires in the trunk and back seat and "Jose Rules" bumper sticker....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Geez, I am torn on this.

      On one hand, it sounds like a logical application of tech with good intentions and, by initial accounts, with good results.

      But the idea of the car behaving on-it's-own, separately from the driver's inputs, just doesn't sound like a good recipe.

      Yes, I understand I'm armchair quarterbacking this from my comfy couch and not in a milliseconds-to-save-lives split-second disaster timeframe. Maybe there having the machine make the decision regardless of what I want _is_ better. But, from outside that situation, it just doesn't feel good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Any car expensive enough to have this system shouldn't have to worry about passing a 40 mph crash test anyway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So I am curious if insurance companies offer discounts for this feature?

      If you think about it, they should cut you some kind of break since theoretically it can either prevent, or lessen the damage in an accident. That would mean less money they would be paying-out to repair damages and pay for injuries.

      But my cynical-side tells me that that makes too much sense and there is no way insurance companies would actually reduce a consumer's costs. They only find ways to increase your premiums.
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